12/28/2016  |  Homegrown Musician: Head Brewer Chris Endrikat

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There’s a pattern with Chris Endrikat, our North Wales head brewer: Give what Dad and big brother are doing a try, and then make a career of it. That’s how he got into music and home-brewing, and ended up touring the world and turning out Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant beer.

“My dad was a jazz trumpet player, so there were always instruments around the house,” Chris noted. “My brother is two years older and got a guitar when he was 10; that’s when I got into the drums.”

Like most kids interested in music, Chris joined his elementary school band and was rewarded for his efforts with a drum set in fifth grade. Lessons continued through middle school, but by then he and his brother were finding their sound in bands—something they do to this day.

“We’ve been in five bands together,” he added. “We’re in two right now. I play the drums in one, and guitar in the other. Luckily, I have a brother who was nice enough to teach me the guitar as a kid.”

Brewing also runs in the family. His love for beer started at home as a kid, scrubbing bottles and observing his father, brother and cousin home-brew. He stumbled across Keystone Homebrew Supply, and the rest is delicious history.

“It’s amazing how many people got their start there who are now working at breweries, including Iron Hill,” Chris explained. “I really got into it when my brother and I were the best men in our friend Andrew Howard’s wedding. We got him a home-brew kit—and he went nuts with it. We brewed with him all the time. He’s now at Yards Brewing Company.”

Chris honed his brewing skills much the same way he did his musical chops—one step at a time, with hard work. He started serving at Iron Hill’s North Wales location, and the second he turned 21 he began volunteering in the brewery. He did that for several months, then was hired as an assistant. He had the opportunity to be the lead brewer in West Chester and jumped at the chance to further refine his talents and his creativity. A little over one year later, he was promoted to North Wales’ head brewer.

“One of the nice things about Iron Hill is we have the opportunity to brew traditional styles, but are free to try new and experimental beers, too,” he said.

That tracks with his musical tastes, which, like our beers on tap, change frequently. You might catch punk, reggae, ska, soul or Motown on his playlist—this week. He calls his first concert in 2003—Dropkick Murphys, an American Celtic punk hailing from Massachusetts he saw at a small club in Lancaster—a defining moment.

“The punk scene is global, but a really tight community,” Chris explained. “We were fortunate enough to grow up in a great scene in Philly. The hospitality we’ve been shown all over the world is incredible. We try to reciprocate that hospitality as often as possible, whether it’s throwing a barbecue or just letting a touring band crash with us. Very few bands actually break even on tours, so any time bands can help each other out is great.”

That’s just the start of what Chris loves about music. He’s completely into all aspects: writing, recording and touring. His bands have worked with U.S., Dutch, Czech and German record labels, which keeps them busy around our country but also opened up European tours.

“We’re extremely grateful that we get to travel to new places, whether it be the U.S., Canada or now Europe,” he said. “It’s a great way for me to see what other brewers are doing all over. We were in a craft beer bar in Barcelona, where the tap list looked very similar to a bar in the States—filled with IPAs and saisons. We also got to visit Brauerei Weihenstephan, the oldest brewery in the world, just north of Munich. It was amazing drinking a pilsner in Germany because it’s the benchmark for the style. We brew a lot of German styles at Iron Hill, so that was pretty humbling.”

How does Chris manage to be a brewer by day and musician by night? He says Iron Hill is incredibly supportive. He takes both roles seriously—whether it’s washing kegs or recording a record. He’s also well aware he’s gotten to learn brewing from some of the most award-winning brewers in the industry.

“I get to learn the brewing standards from the incredibly talented guys who came before me, and that’s something I totally appreciate and never forget,” he added.

With 12 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

Photos, top to bottom: Christine Caton, Noisy Little Critter, © Brewers Association

12/05/2016  |  From Homebrewer to Head Brewer (Plus Free Advice!): Moriah Guise

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If Newark Head Brewer Moriah Guise has heard it once, she’s heard it a thousand times: “How do I get your job?”

“I don’t mind hearing that at all,” she said, laughing. “That’s a common question among homebrewers. They have this awesome hobby and they want to make money with it. Since most of us at Iron Hill started as homebrewers, it’s a great question.”

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant’s storied history started with two friends who just happened to be award-winning homebrewers, Kevin Finn and Mark Edelson. It’s no surprise, then, that many homebrewers have worked their way into our ranks.

“If you’re a homebrewer, your choices are to work for an established brewery or start your own,” Moriah added. “Unless you’ve got great funding, aiming for an established brewery is the way to go. Just be prepared to work your way up; it’s hard work, but it’s worth it.”

At Iron Hill, most of our brewery staff started in another role. We love to promote from within! Many started as servers, dishwashers and other restaurant-side employees.

“We do have a few brewers who came from other breweries, but we’ve got a solid history of spying talent at Iron Hill,” Moriah said. “I started as a server in Wilmington in 2011, and fell in love with the company. I volunteered for events, helped bottle and can, and got to know everyone. I like to say I was persistent, but just on this side of being annoying! When the opportunity opened up I was able to transition to the brewery department.”

Moriah has been homebrewing for about a decade, starting when she was living in Nashville. The microbrewery scene wasn’t as robust back then, but she sought out brewers and picked their brains.

“I started hanging out in this crazy shop that was part gardening store, part homebrewing supplies,” she explained. “That’s how I started this hobby. I became a borderline science nerd by making beer I really liked. Plus, it was pretty cool to be able to give a mixed six at Christmas that I made myself.”

Once she got into our brewery, Moriah quickly became the Wilmington assistant brewer. In April 2015 she went to the Voorhees location as lead brewer, which she calls “head brewer in training.” She sharpened her management side, and earned the Newark head brewer job in November 2015.

Any Iron Hill employee eyeing a spot on the brewery has the opportunity to brew for a day. Moriah highly recommends it, as brewing isn’t all “sunshine and rainbows; there’s some grunt work that comes with it. We brewers always joke: chefs have dishwashers; we have ourselves. Those who come out for a brew day can see if they can deal with the ‘glamour’ and the grunt.”

Moriah is still active with First State Brewers, and still homebrews. She fields a lot of questions there—and at Iron Hill. Guests come in with recipes, samples and even bottles of their finished products to ask for honest feedback.

“It’s one of the really nice things about Iron Hill specifically—we’re encouraged to stay accessible to our guests,” she added. “They’ll ask us to try a beer because they feel something’s missing, recommend hops to balance a beer or just brainstorm about a style. I love that part of being an Iron Hill brewer.”

Are you a homebrewer? Thinking about it? Want the inside skinny? Stop by your local Iron Hill and see who’s in, plus check out some on-point advice, courtesy of Moriah:

Join a club.

Homebrewers clubs are “super awesome groups of people seriously interested in the hobby, from newbies to seasoned homebrewers,” Moriah said. It’s a relaxed environment to talk about recipes, hear guest speakers and get a handle on it all before you invest.

You don’t have to go to school to become a brewer.

Moriah notes that there are amazing schools that delve into brewing and fermentation science, but that the school of hard knocks also works. “Iron Hill encourages us to get continuing education, so I’m currently enrolled with the American Brewers Guild for a certification,” she said.

It’s not hard to be female in a (currently) male-dominated industry.

“Brewers are the most welcoming group of people,” Moriah explained. “Everyone is there with the same idea: to brew great beer. All walks of life—different ages, male, female, whatever—we’re all in it for the same reason.” When she does want to get in touch with her sister brewers, she takes advantage of her Pink Boots Society membership. The organization assists, inspires and encourages women beer professionals through education.

You probably won’t save money as a homebrewer—but it’s worth it.

Moriah wants you to know: you’re going to dump some beer on your homebrewing journey. And, it hurts. “It happens! You won’t be perfect coming out of the gate. We’ve all spent an entire Saturday brewing, then weeks carefully checking on our homebrew, only to find it’s bad and needs to be dumped. Stick with it! Write down everything you do, because something totally random could make or break your next batch. It’s all worth it when you take something you hand-crafted, give it to someone and say, ‘I made this.’”

With 12 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

Photos: Sophia DiPersio of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

11/17/2016  |  A Fitting Tribute: Last Alarm IPA Honors Fallen Firefighters

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It took about a minute for Wilmington Head Brewer Justin Sproul to say “yes” when presented with the idea to brew a special beer to honor two local firefighters lost in the line of duty.

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant server Sam Cannon is a volunteer firefighter who—like many—was deeply touched by the deaths of Lt. Christopher Leach, 41, and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes, 51. She suggested we go beyond the Give 20 and bring in Wilmington Fire Department Local 1590 firefighters to craft a tribute beer.

“Sam’s idea made us really proud,” Justin said. “It felt really good to give back. It reminded us that we don’t need a tragedy to do something like this; we want to continue the relationship with our Wilmington firefighters and hope to make it an annual event.”

All Iron Hill locations host Give 20 events—fun and delicious ways for nonprofits to raise money by bringing together their friends and families to dine with us and enjoy 20 percent of the evening’s take. The Last Alarm IPA project went a step further: not only did 20 percent of the proceeds go to WFD Local 1590, but an additional $1 for every pint and mug of Last Alarm also was donated, right until the very last drop.

Last Alarm IPA brew day was a crisp fall day that brought together Justin and his brewing crew with five firefighters. They hung out, sampled some beers and—of course—took part in Last Alarm IPA’s creation. Justin was also moved by the firefighters’ telling stories and reminiscing about their fallen friends.

Fellow firefighter John Cawthray—who was injured in that fateful fire—pulled the first pour of First Alarm IPA at a special event held at our Wilmington brewpub. It was an emotional moment for all, with thoughts going to Chris, Jerry and their families, and also to the two firefighters still hospitalized with injuries from the blaze. There was a moment of silence, a toast and then many more pours.

“We chose an IPA because it’s a great beer, but also because we could make it rather quickly to honor those guys,” Justin added. “An IPA also allowed us to make a nice, balanced beer to appeal to craft beer drinkers, yet not intimidate noncraft beer drinkers. Last Alarm IPA has some nice citrusy and piney hop notes and a subtle malt profile, so there’s not an aggressive bitterness. The guys from 1590 agreed!”

Our chefs and kitchen staff got on board right away and created signature food for a special day: Smoked Beef Brisket Chili with roasted tomato, cumin, red onion, jalapeño and optional “3-alarm sauce” plus Fire House Wings served with celery and carrot sticks and a spicy Szechuan chili sauce, with sweet plum-ginger sauce for dipping—both perfect with a refreshing IPA.

“This is the kind of thing that makes Iron Hill unique,” Justin added. “We’re part of our community and stand by our community. We’re so proud to have raised money to support Chris’ and Jerry’s families. If you missed it, you can still help: there’s a GoFundMe page, too.”

With 12 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

Photos: Sophia DiPersio of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

10/28/2016  |  Seasonal Favorite Recipe: Iron Hill Chorizo and Pumpkin Chili

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There’s something soul-warming about eating chili in the fall. Picture crisp weather, snuggling into your favorite sweatshirt, seeing your breath in the air and feeling your belly full of hearty chili—chased with an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant Pumpkin Ale, of course.

Our medium-bodied copper ale is malty-sweet with balancing bitterness. We spice it with traditional pumpkin pie spices and vanilla instead of finishing hops, making it a smooth sipping beer that pairs perfectly with rustic comfort foods like Chorizo and Pumpkin Chili.

We asked assistant director of culinary operations Dan Bethard to rustle up a special recipe for you, our hungry (and, thirsty!) fans, and he pulled out all the stops using our seasonal Pumpkin Ale. You’ll be in high demand at tailgates, potlucks, football-watching parties and other seasonal socials when you’re toting along a big batch of this just-right-spiced chili.

“This recipe uses beef and sausage for a good flavor balance,” Dan explains. “There’s a slight contrast in texture, too, which makes beef and pork play well together. We’ve been making this on and off for years, and it only gets better with our Pumpkin Ale.”

Another secret: Iron Hill Chorizo and Pumpkin Chili features long-neck pumpkins, often called crookneck squash. They’re local and available this time of year and bring the ideal texture and flavors when diced and added near the end of the cooking process.

Ready to cook like an Iron Hill chef? Before you start, take note of Dan’s top three tips for nailing this chili recipe:

1. Let it cook long enough.

This means allowing the time for the meat’s fibers to cook out. If they appear tough and stringy, they’re not done. Be patient. Let it simmer and give the protein a chance to soften up (and soak in flavors, too).

2. Use your taste buds to determine when it’s done.

Sure, you have to set a timer now and again, but the best way to know if it’s really, really done is to check it and taste it. Simmering is where the love comes in because it infuses the chili with layers of flavors. You add the extra love when you taste and adjust the seasonings.

3. Don’t skip the red wine vinegar.

The recipe calls for red wine vinegar near the end; it’s the same as adding lemon juice at the end of a seafood chowder recipe. The vinegar’s acid brings out bright flavors and a fresh taste, The tomato acid isn’t enough in this big chili—add the vinegar and savor the difference.

Bonus tip: Grab a Pumpkin Ale growler or 4-pack from your favorite Iron Hill so you have plenty of beer to accompany your chili. Cheers!


Iron Hill Chorizo and Pumpkin Chili

Makes 2 gallons


  • 2.5 lbs. ground beef
  • 5 lbs. chorizo
  • 4 cups raw pinto beans
  • 2 tbsp. dark chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. ancho chile powder
  • 2 oz pureed chipotles in adobo
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 6 cups Spanish onions, medium diced
  • 6 cups green bell pepper, medium diced
  • 2 tbsp. minced jalapeños
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 cup Iron Hill Pumpkin Ale
  • 1 gallon beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups long neck pumpkins, medium diced
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar


  1. In two medium-sized rondos or other appropriate pans, cook ground beef in one pan and chorizo in the other, chopping with a spoon and then a potato masher to break up. Drain each into a colander and set aside.
  2. In a pot, submerge pinto beans in water. Bring to a boil, then simmer pinto beans until done (soft to the bite). Drain and set aside.
  3. Puree the chipotle peppers. Add to medium stainless steel or other nonreactive bowl and mix in dark chili powder, ancho chile powder, black pepper, cumin, oregano and sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a pot, sweat the onions, peppers, jalapeños and garlic in oil for about 8-10 minutes until they become soft.
  5. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and beer. Cook until the beer is reduced by half its volume
  6. Add beef broth, spice mixture and salt and cook for 20 minutes. Stir often.
  7. Add meats and cook for 90 minutes longer. Stir often.
  8. Finish by adding the cooked beans, diced pumpkin and vinegar. Cook for 15 minutes or until the pumpkin becomes tender; check the seasoning and add more if needed.

With 12 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

Pumpkin ale photo, credit Steve Legato; remaining photos credited to Sophia DiPersio

09/22/2016  |  Inspiring Loyalty: The GABF Staff Party

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For the past 20 years, Iron Hill has attended the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, Colorado—a prestigious beer festival and competition that boasts “the largest collection of U.S. beer ever served.” Each year we send a handful of our employees to the festival to immerse them in the craft brew culture. For those fortunate enough to attend, the three day-long event is a whirlwind of tastings, brewery tours, company outings and more. To put it simply—the entire trip is a damn good time!

Unfortunately, not every employee gets to make the coveted trip to Denver. (Someone’s gotta stay here and serve you the tasty stuff!) So, to include everyone in the GABF spirit, we began hosting a companywide GABF Staff Party. In its 20th year, the 2016 party featured a casino setup, DJ and dance floor, photo booths, a buffet, Iron Hill beer, and a major highlight of the night—a donut wall! You read that right… a donut wall. A wall. Made of donuts. It was as amazing as it sounds.

Nearly 600 people attended the festivities, giving employees from all locations and positions a chance to meet and mingle. For Tim Stumpf, Head Brewer in West Chester, this is the best part of the event.

“My favorite part of the GABF party is definitely seeing all of my old friends who I have worked with over the years. I’ve been with Iron Hill since 1998, and worked for extended periods in the first 6 Iron Hill locations, so it’s really great to see how far all of my friends have come. Some are department heads now, others are starting families, it’s really great to have a chance to catch up and reminisce about old times.”

The evening is filled with dancing, laughter and a sense of camaraderie most companies only dream about. That camaraderie is a result of Iron Hill’s core values and something we strive for on a daily basis—to inspire loyalty, not just from our guests, but within the company as well.

To make the party possible, each Iron Hill location shuts its doors a few hours early to allow every employee the opportunity to attend. According to Shannon Mahoney, a manager at our Huntingdon Valley location, this speaks volumes about our culture.

“I don’t know many restaurants/companies that are willing to close down all of their locations so that their staff can have a night off and enjoy themselves with one another. It’s a huge ‘thank you’ to all of the employees and I think it continues to build the positive culture that Iron Hill strives and thrives on!”

As Lorraine Serva, Director of Human Resources, sees it, hosting this event each year really highlights the importance of the “People” aspect of our three core values—People, Product, Profit.

“We have a major party where we invite 1000+ employees. We rent a DJ, casino night, photographer, photo booths, this year a donut wall, and we have a full buffet. We even order busses to take away the worry of figuring out transportation. It’s quite an undertaking and the fact that we lose revenue by closing all locations for the night is secondary to creating a memorable evening to celebrate our employees and all that they do. If we were only concerned about profit, we’d never be able to have this lavish ‘Iron Hill Prom.’”

In addition to all the fun stuff we rent for the evening, we also use the party to hand out a few awards. (This party just keeps getting better, huh?) First of the night is the Brewie, awarded this year to the Phoenixville team. The Brewie recognizes the location that leads the year in categories like sales, safety, customer surveys and more.

Up next—awarding one person from each location a trip to GABF! That’s right, an employee from every restaurant wins a trip to Denver on the Iron Hill tab. Pretty cool, huh? Everyone 21+ is eligible and entries are gained on a points based system, with points being given for things like hours worked, years of service, brewing for a day, bottling, safety committee and more.

For Regional Brewer Kevin Walter, being present when the winners of the Brewie and GABF trips are announced is a major highlight of the evening.

“My favorite part of the GABF party is seeing the reactions from the staff when Mark Edelson, Kevin Finn and Kevin Davies give out the awards. It’s awesome to see how excited they are.”

Once the awards are said and done, the rest of the night is dedicated to drinking beer, dancing and battling it out over Blackjack at the casino tables. (Oh, and donuts. Can’t forget that donut wall!)  As Co-Founder and Director of Brewery Operations Mark Edelson notes, this event gives people who work on typical off-times like nights, weekends and holidays a chance to get together and let loose.

“In the hospitality business, we work when everyone else plays, so it is nice to set some time aside, shut down the restaurants and gather. I think it is great that we can all get together in one place. It is an opportunity for us to give back and throw a big party for staff and celebrate their   hard work.”

For Kevin Finn, Co-Founder and President, throwing the GABF Staff Party shows our dedication to inspiring loyalty year after year, and is a testament to the Iron Hill culture we’ve built since day one.

“It’s special because it is a tradition and we have stuck to it over the years. More importantly, I find it very fulfilling when so many employees come up and personally thank us for the party. Culturally, it reinforces how important our employees are to our success.”


With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Sophia DiPersio
Photos © Brian Penn


09/04/2016  |  5 Reasons Why We’re Not Your Average “Brewpub” Fare

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We’re darn proud of our 12 brewpubs, where our thirsty customers cozy up to the bar when they want a freshly made (and award-winning!) beer. But we’re just as proud of the carefully crafted food that comes from our kitchens—there’s a reason we’re called Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant.

The original idea behind our menu was to take fine dining offerings and transform them into a brewery/restaurant concept. Our talented chefs make everything from scratch and create signature menu items to complement our handcrafted beers. We also wanted to take traditional pub-style menu items such as burgers, wings and nachos and turn them on their heads—in some cases, we’ve morphed them into something unique to Iron Hill.

“That philosophy hasn’t changed that much over the years,” explained Assistant Director of Culinary Operations Dan Bethard. “Sure, we’ve developed a bigger range of offerings, but what makes us Iron Hill has remained the same. What’s been fun is we’ve been focusing more on how our beer and our food pair on our menu.”

Curious? Hungry? Take a stroll through the top reasons we’re not your average brewpub, and then stop by your favorite Iron Hill and taste what all the fuss is about.

1. We Infuse House Beers into the Menu.

Do you get a familiar taste when you dip into one of our sauces? That’s because we use some of our house beers in sauces, dressings, breads, batters and marinades. In the category of waste not, want not, we also use spent grain to make croutons. Keep an eye trained on our website, too; we’re developing new items using our signature beers!

2. We Use the Seasons for Inspiration.

Our chefs love creating daily features. Chefs at all 12 locations try what’s local and seasonal and bust out one-of-a-kind dishes for your eating pleasure. They also look to the brewery: we use seasonal beers to inspire some of those daily delights, our signature beer dinners and exclusive King of the Hill Rewards Club events.

3. We’re Serious About Housemade.

At Iron Hill, “handcrafted” refers to everything we do in the brewery—and also in the kitchen: from scratch and made fresh daily. Our discerning customers demand it, and there’s really no reason to do it any other way!

4. We Love to Think Outside the Box.

Back in the day, you didn’t see Cheesesteak Egg Rolls on a lot of restaurants’ menus. We changed all that when we introduced them—now not only are they one of our most popular items, but they’ve also popped up elsewhere. That’s cool: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

5. Did We Mention Our Food Pairs Perfectly with Our Beer?

In case you missed it, we’re 100 percent committed to crafting our menus to highlight foods that pair really well with our award-winning beers. That’s why we keep the area’s best chefs in our kitchens!

Dan has a few menu items near and dear to his heart—and his stomach! His favorites are Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, Pan Seared Nantucket Sea Scallops, Chicken Fried Chicken, Moroccan Salmon, Grilled North Atlantic Salmon Salad, Hand Cut Carolina Sweet Potato Fries and Louisiana Chicken Gumbo. Have you tried?

Other great examples of not-your-average fare are our Fried Brussels Sprouts, Old Charleston Shrimp, Fried Goat Cheese, Jamaican Jerk Pork Porterhouse and Mesclun Salad. Imagine those with a cold, refreshing beer … wait! You don’t have to imagine it. You can simply pop into Iron Hill.

“We enjoy what we do each and every day, and that means great things for our guests,” Dan added. “Our food and beer’s freshness, quality and uniqueness—plus our fun and comfortable atmosphere and high level of service—make us the brewpub you want to visit.”

We can’t wait to see you soon!

With 12 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

Photos: Steve Legato

08/17/2016  |  Inside Scoop on Watching the Iron Hill Twilight Race Series

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News flash! This year, cycling fans will witness the USA CRITS championship series finals when the Iron Hill Twilight Race Series speeds through downtown West Chester on Saturday, August 20. Plan to be there, and check out our insider tips for getting the most out of your day.

“We couldn’t be more excited about hosting the championships for USA CRITS,” said Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce President Mark Yoder. “We usually see 100–110 men and 40–50 women, all high-caliber riders; we expect to see even more great racers this year.”

Race day is a family day, with tons of activities for kids of all ages. The streets of downtown West Chester close at noon, and the free Community Zones open at 3 p.m.:

  • Kid’s Zone—The Wells Fargo Bank parking lot on East Gay Street between The Classic Diner and Teca will be packed with family fun! You’ll find an inflatable obstacle course, kid-centric vendors, Hawaiian shaved ice and more. Winners of the West Chester Dental Arts Kids’ Race will cross the finish line there and grab their medals, too.
  • Benchmark Community Festival—There’s something for everyone on High Street between Gay and Market streets! Stop by this showcase for local businesses that provide support for the race. You’ll enjoy info and offerings from health and fitness providers, home improvement vendors, service providers, food & treats and so much more.
  • Market Street Block Party—Not to be outdone, the businesses on Market Street between Church and Darlington streets are throwing their annual shindig in honor of the race! This is another family-friendly good time featuring face painting, the chance to chalk up the street with your artistic prowess, live music and great food.

Now that you’ve had some fun it’s time to get set for the races. Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant President Kevin Finn is a race-day veteran because Iron Hill has been the title sponsor from the start, working closely with the Chamber, which mounts the day-long event. Here are his top race day tips:

  • Start the day by watching future pro cyclers at the West Chester Dental Arts Kids’ Race starting at 3:30 p.m. Kids ages 3–10 will pedal for glory and leave with a medal and goodie bag. The race ends at the Kid’s Zone, a perfect place to cool off with shaved ice.
  • Then, head over to the super-competitive Tolsdorf Twilight Trike Challenge for a 4:30 p.m. start. Teams of five adults furiously pedal tricycles with one goal in mind: to win VIP passes to the Crit Club for a delicious buffet, Iron Hill’s specially brewed Race Day Radler and—of course—bragging rights and the coveted trophy.
  • Stroll through the Benchmark Community Festival and the Market Street Block Party while waiting for the Rothman Institute Amateur Men’s Criterium that starts at 5:45 p.m. This race pits top local cyclists against the challenging downtown course. Start staking out your spot for breathtaking views of racers speeding by. Those in the know hit:
    • The Beer Garden on High Street right by the start/finish line. This is a great spot to enjoy a beer and get the full scoop on what’s going on during the race from the announcer stationed across the street.
    • The outdoor areas right outside Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, also right by the start/finish line. Beer will be flowing there, too!
    • Turn one at Church and Gay streets, a “technical” corner and an interesting place to watch the race.
    • Turn three at Market and Matlack streets, another challenging corner sure to delight race enthusiasts.
  • Stay put for the Brumbaugh Wealth Management Pro Women’s Criterium Championship Series Final at 6:45 p.m. and be amazed by top women racers in this key USA Cycling race.
  • Hunker down for the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium Pro Men’s Championship Final at 8 p.m. The streets will explode with top national bike pros racing to the finish to claim the championship.

It’s a long, exciting day, so we recommend you come prepared to go the distance:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing to beat the heat.
  • Consider sneakers or walking shoes to help you navigate the crowds as you walk around West Chester.
  • Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated.
  • Stop in to food vendors and restaurants to grab bites throughout the day.

“It’s been our pleasure and honor to be the title sponsor of this race,” Kevin added. “But we couldn’t do it without all the other sponsors and volunteers, and of course, Mark and the Chamber, who present this event.”

A few final thoughts from Mark: “We appreciate all our sponsors, but a special nod this year to Brumbaugh Wealth Management, which stepped up to make sure the women’s purse matched the men’s. For the first time at the Iron Hill Twilight Race Series—one of the few times in pro racing—the winners of both the men’s and the women’s finals will receive $10,000.”

“We’re also still looking for more trike teams; that race benefits Fame Fire Company No. 3,” he noted. “Last, but certainly not least, we are in need of many more volunteers.”

Don’t miss what’s shaping up to be a history-making event in downtown West Chester on August 20!

With 12 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone

Photos: Brian Penn Photography

08/05/2016  |  The ABCs of Craft Brewing

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We’re craft brewers, and we’re darn proud to say it. Every day we work for you, our thirsty Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant customer, by hand-creating fresh, delicious beer.

But what does it mean to be a craft brewer?

“As craft brewers, we use the best ingredients available to us—every time,” said Iron Hill Media Head Brewer Andrew Johnston. “We carefully select our sources for barley, hops, yeast and water because every single thing we put into the process will impact the final product. We’re on the lookout for farmers and maltsters who know what they’re doing to create malted barley to produce the right flavors. We also search far and wide to get the best hops with the right alpha acids, aroma and flavor compounds.”

Andrew says it takes a good 7–10 years to get the hop shoot to where it’s actually being used by a mass amount of craft brewers. This often becomes a partnership: hop growers will ask brewers to sample and make beers with their hops to see if they produce the right aroma and flavor; if not, they scrap the hops and start over.

At Iron Hill, we’re just as serious about our recipes as we are our ingredients. Naturally there’s plenty of research involved … and by research we mean visiting other breweries, having a beer and talking shop. There’s a camaraderie among craft brewers, a sharing of information and insight rarely found in other industries.

“Inspiration also comes from food,” Andrew noted. “As a brewer, sometimes you eat something and a spice hits you and you think, ‘I wonder what I could do with that?’—and an idea for a new recipe is born.”

Filled with inspiration, we head to the brewery at our respective Iron Hill locations and get to work.

We take all the raw ingredients and weigh them.

We mill the grain to crack it open to the right size—not powdery like flour, or it will turn to mush, and not to the other extreme, or we won’t get the right starches. We store cracked grain in the grist hopper.

We head to the brewery and weigh the rest.

That includes hops, brewing salts, gypsum, water and whatever else is needed that day. It’s worth noting the type of brewing salts makes a huge difference. We use calcium chloride for lagers, for example, to give them their delicate, crisp and clear character. Gypsum hardens the water to bring out hop bitterness, flavor and aroma for big IPAs.

We start the mash process.

Our grist auger pulls the cracked grain up to the mash tun where we rehydrate it to kick the enzymatic process into gear. Those enzymes go to town to turn the grain into sugars that will feed the yeast. This process—where we basically take a giant shovel and stir what looks like a big pot of oatmeal—takes about 30 minutes. Then it rests for roughly an hour.

We begin recirculation.

Here we use a naturally occurring filter bed—husks!—to pull liquid from the bottom of the mash tun and place it back on top. It filters down and clarifies the wort. We do this until the sugary wort clears.

We move the wort from the mash tun to the kettle.

There it gets sparged for about 90 minutes. Hot water is gently sprinkled over the grain and slowly seeps through it to grab those extra sugars. Then, we start the boiling process to sanitize the wort and remove naturally occurring microscopic bacteria that will cause the beer to sour if not banished. Boiling also concentrates those important sugars, too. Once we get to a good, vigorous boil we’ll add hops, which provide the bitterness to balance the sugar’s sweetness. Depending on the type of beer we’re brewing, we’ll continue to add hops for flavor; we’ll definitely add them at the end for aroma.

We transfer the wort to the heat exchanger.

This is where we cool the wort; our heat exchanger works like a car radiator. The wort runs one way, and cold water and food-grade cooling glycol run the other way. As this happens the water heats up from the hot wort and the wort cools down. We recapture that hot water to clean the brewery, and the glycol is in a closed loop so it goes back to a reservoir to cool down to serve our wort another day.

We flow the cooled wort into the fermenter.

At this point, we’ll pitch in yeast to ensure a healthy fermentation. We see fermentation at work within about 24 hours: the yeast starts turning sugar into alcohol, CO2 and flavor components.

We clean.

Seriously. Once fermentation starts, we spend the rest of the day cleaning and sanitizing the brewery. The spoils for going from brewer to janitor? An Iron Hill beer and meal.

We watch and wait.

It takes up to six weeks (sometimes more!), depending on the beer, to ferment. Our House Beer White Iron Wit takes about two weeks; ales two to four weeks; lagers four to six weeks; and our most awarded beer, Russian Imperial Stout, up to six weeks. When we’re brewing beers with specific flavor notes, like our Overload Stout, we use the end of fermentation time to add ingredients like cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and coffee beans. This is also when we dry hop select beers.

We condition the beer.

When fermentation ends, we cold condition by bringing it almost to a freezing point. This locks in flavors and drops out a lot of the yeast. The process takes a few days and is a very important step to get the great taste Iron Hill delivers.

We filter the final product.

Delicious beer is almost ready for you! We filter it into brite tanks that can hold up to 300+ gallons. Here it merges with a carbon dioxide stone and in about 12 hours it’s settled and ready to go. At Iron Hill, beer goes from the brite tank to the beer pump to the tap. It’s fast to the bar, super fresh, perfectly carbonated and ready to enjoy.

We bottle and can.

When beer is being targeted for bottles, we filter it into the brite tank and blend in yeast and sugar for bottle conditioning. That goes into kegs; bottles are filled from individual kegs to ensure quality. We cage and cork them, and within about two weeks the yeast and sugar create the CO2 that soaks back into the beer. When the final destination is cans, we call on our friends at River City Cannery, who show up and put our finished and carbonated beer into cans. Perfect!

“One more thing I want to point out: the biggest thing people don’t understand about craft beer is that it’s hands on—not a flick of a switch or the push of a button,” Andrew emphasized. “At Iron Hill, there’s one or two people keeping an eye on our beer at all times. We make sure everything is going as expected so the beer you drink is brewed properly and correctly every time.”

“We’re proud to be craft brewers,” he continued. “It means pushing the limits to make something a little bit better or to take all the R&D we do and make it our own. We always want to find that new, fun and inventive product so our customers say ‘wow.’”

Come visit us and sample what our brewers have hand-crafted for you!

With 11 locations—and number 12 on the way—in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone


07/25/2016  |  Yes, You Can Drink Dark Beer in the Summer

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When it comes to beer, we know you like what you like—and that you’re also willing to experiment. That’s why at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, we serve up an ever-changing selection of creative releases on tap in addition to our stellar house beer lineup. Our customers demand it!

Although we bust out our share of lighter summer favorites, you’ll still find a few dark beers on the menu to satisfy your thirst for something malty, roasty and complex.

What’s the mojo behind dark beers? We picked Voorhees Senior Head Brewer Brian Finn’s brain for the delicious details and asked him to geek out a bit about what goes into darker selections.

“All beers are made up of about 80–85 percent pale colored malt, so it’s the other 15 percent-ish that colors the beer,” Brian started. “The pale malt provides the sugar, which is converted to alcohol. The darker malts are less fermentable and don’t contribute to the alcohol content—but they really contribute to the beer’s color, body and taste.”

Brian agrees there’s definitely a place on the menu for the handful of dark beers we brew in the summer. Our award-winning Pig Iron Porter is a house beer and a great example of everything that’s amazing about dark beer. It’s the whole package: a 5.4% ABV classic porter that shows off roasted malts and chocolate notes that are well balanced with just a hint of bitterness.

“Believe it or not, dark beer is a great entry beer for those just getting into different styles because of the sweet and smoky notes,” Brian added. “And we’ve found that a lot of our guests, both men and women, like darker beers because of the chocolate notes.”

You’ll spy some of these darker beers on our summer menus, and they just might surprise you:

  • Overload Stout: This award-winning imperial stout is aged on rich chocolate nibs and locally roasted coffee. It’s complex, with tastes of vanilla, chocolate and earthy coffee. 8.5% ABV.
  • Black IPA: You can have your pronounced bitterness and your full malt flavor, too. This award winner offers up substantial hop flavors and aromas with a touch of roast. 7.0% ABV.
  • Arnold Schwarzenbier: We call this German black beer the governor of Schwarzbiers, a style that mysteriously offers a lighter, lager finish. You’ll get the touch of roast balanced by a nice bitterness. 4.5% ABV.
  • Imperial Coffee Porter: A full-bodied riff on our Pig Iron Porter, this is bold because it’s brewed with 35 pounds of Mexican and Monaco beans from La Colombe Coffee in Philadelphia. 8.5% ABV.
  • Roggenbier: A traditional German dark rye bringing big fruit on the nose thanks to Bavarian ale yeast. Notice hints of unsweetened chocolate plus caramel from the specialty malts and a touch of spiciness from the rye in this award winner. 6.4% ABV.
  • Abbey Dubbel: Not your traditional dark beer, but its deep mahogany color puts this award winner into the mix. It’s brewed in the classic Belgian monastery style and offers sweet notes from dark Belgian candi sugar; watch for hints of plum and pear. 6.9% ABV.

And let’s not forget that our most awarded beer, Russian Imperial Stout, is available in Bottled Reserves (and in limited runs on tap). Pop into your local Iron Hill to grab this full-bodied stout packed with malty sweetness and big roasty character perfectly balanced by citrusy American hops (9.5% ABV). Look for other mahogany to dark beers in Bottled Reserves like Abbey Dubbel, Saison, Wee Heavy, Bedotter, The Cannibal and F.Red. Go to the Fresh Beer link on our website and click on Bottled Reserves.

To the occasional nay-sayer, Brian suggests that those who are leery of trying a dark beer would do well to remember that if they drink coffee, it’s a short leap to dark beer because of the many shared characteristics—most notably earthiness, roastiness and hints of chocolate.

“Dark beers also make for great pairings,” he noted. “They go well with hearty foods like red meats and, of course, with desserts featuring chocolate. Those are must-try pairings!”

Ready to sample? Check the Fresh Beer link on our website, and peruse the On Tap links for all of our restaurants. You’ll always be able to sip house beer Pig Iron Porter at your favorite Iron Hill, but maybe it’s time to branch out and try a different Iron Hill—and a different dark beer offering.

“Another great way to try a selection of beers is at our fresh events,” Brian said. “You’ll find brunches, happy hours and weekend events—keep an eye on our website! My favorites? The Dark Side and Night of the Czar. Hope to see you there!”

With 11 locations—and number 12 on the way—in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone


06/29/2016  |  Why IPAs Are Still King of the Hill

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You know you love it: the nose full of grapefruit and pine you get as your lips approach the glass, backed up by bracing sips of the same kissed with hints of melon, passionfruit, earthiness, tangerine, pineapple … we could go on. And we will, about the inimitable IPA.

“I’ve been a brewer for 20 years, and the first 10 I saw a lot of brewing of styles from other countries,” said Voorhees Senior Head Brewer Brian Finn. “Now, those countries are brewing American IPAs—it’s the hottest style in the world. It really legitimizes what we’ve been doing in the American craft beer industry.”

Brian explains that American hops are the most pungent, aromatic hops in the world, hops that helped make bitterness a good thing. He’s had his share of IPAs—taste-testing is work, after all—and admits he’s quaffed some that were over the top. Still, he and fellow Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant brewers strive for balanced IPAs that bring the pucker but are rich with the fresh, clean citrus-pine-florals-fruits that customers love.

“The great ones are about the flavor, not just blowing you away with hoppiness,” Brian adds. “The big trend now: fruited IPAs. Wilmington will be releasing one infused with grapefruit in late summer; keep an eye out at our other locations as we experiment. You could see mango, tangerine, orange and pineapple make their way into our refreshing IPAs.”

Our stalwart house offering is Ore House IPA: a golden with a balanced hop bitterness and wonderful citrus and pine aroma and flavor. But do peruse the beer list at your favorite Iron Hill as we’re always riffing on this classic. Our brewers love to showcase different hop styles and what good ol’ American ingenuity can create.

And let’s not forget our friend malted barley, who stars alongside many impressive IPAs, like the most popular IPA seasonal at Wilmington, Riverfront IPA. It’s highly hopped, but the sweet malt flavor balances it nicely—even though we use an abundance of American variety hops and dry hop it for extra citrusy hop aroma.

Convinced you’re not into hops? We’re talking to you now. We urge you to sip on a lighter-style session IPA; they’re a great entry point when you’re experimenting. We also suggest pairing with food to really see how an IPA can shine. Match our hoppy beers with spicy dishes, cheese boards, rich pork, game and other dishes that can stand up to the beer cutting through to balance strong flavors and provide a satisfying finish.

“Try our chicken wings with the classic buffalo sauce and any of our IPAs for a great idea of how beer and food can really work together—especially if you’re testing out IPAs,” Brian suggested. “If you really want to put it to the test, do a flight and see how the subtle nuances of varied hops bring out different flavors in food.”

If you took a peek in Brian’s growler, you’d find the Crusher, a session beer that’s the brainchild of Ardmore Senior Head Brewer Paul Rutherford and his team. It boasts a blend of Cascade, Amarillo and Nelson hops that bring notes of grapefruit, peach and ripe pineapple. (You can nab Crusher in cans, too!) His go-to pairing? Yup, Iron Hill’s buffalo wings.

Brian has a serious passion for IPAs, and not just because virtually no two are alike thanks to almost unlimited ways to marry hops, more hops and sometimes malts. “American hops are prized the world ‘round—and IPAs are our beer, a true American beer that’s come up by the hard work of American craft brewers. We’ve taken it and made it our own. That makes me incredibly proud to be an American craft brewer.”

Come taste why our IPAs are king of the hill. And, while you’re at it, make sure you’re an Iron Hill King of the Hill Rewards Club member! We’ll make sure you feel like royalty as you earn rewards and enjoy member-only events and other exclusive perks. Earn points at sign-up and renewal and for visiting Iron Hill (and a bonus for visiting five or more times in a month) for each dollar spent on food. It’s good to be the King of the Hill!

With 11 locations—and number 12 on the way—in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Nina Malone